Remote work program for non-residents pays off big time for Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — The Welcome Stamp program allowing non-residents to work remotely while living in Barbados has proved lucrative, according to Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs Wilfred Abrahams.

With countless businesses shifting gears to work-from-home models amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados was among one of the first countries in the world — and the first Caribbean nation — to launch a program whereby non-residents could continue working remotely while living abroad for up to one year. The program was launched in June 2020 and was just this past summer extended for at least another 12 months.

Hailing the initiative as an “amazing success story” in Parliament, Abrahams noted that over 100 nationalities had expressed interest in the program, with the United Kingdom and Canada representing a majority 70 percent of the 2,810 applications received — of which 1,891 were approved. He outlined that 3,303 people had participated in the program, consisting of 699 families.

“The sum of revenue collected to date is $4,034,000 and this is simply in the fees. But the extent or the impact on the economy of Barbados provided by the Welcome Stamp is not limited to the fees,” Abrahams said.

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    He explained that program participants not only engaged in activities that tourists did, keeping many tourism-based businesses afloat while stopover tourism was at a near halt, but that they also purchased real estate, bought groceries, paid for their children to attend private schools and interacted with the community in ways that translated to direct cash flow for the country.

    The minister also said the benefits of the program for Barbados did not stop at direct economic stimulus, but spilled over into the “importation of highly skilled professionals who can bring a cross-fertilization of skills and ideas”.

    Although those who fall under the Welcome Stamp are not permitted to be employed at Bajan jobs, Abrahams said Barbados nonetheless benefits from individuals who may help “position the country’s human capital on the cutting edge of technological development”; those who “add significantly to value and quality of human capital in Barbados”; as well as professionals who have skill sets that “we don’t actually have here”, particularly in the Information Technology field.

    The opportunity now exists for us to try to keep those people here to train Bajans in emerging and evolving skill sets that we do not have any concept of in Barbados,” the minister said.

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    Barbados Remote Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 —

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